Saturday, April 14, 2012

Verbal/Emotional Abuse in the Pashtun Society - Part II: Some Pointers

Continuing the discussion on verbal and emotional domestic abuse. 

Pointers about emotional/verbal abuse:
  • A lack of intelligence or good education has nothing to do with the nature of abusive people.
    Your husband/brother/father may be among the most intelligent, most educated of men in the world, but he may STILL be abusive. Education has no power to eradicate violence or abuse. I know of plenty of men who are highly educated but are in relationships (some marital, some non-marital) with women for whom they have no respect and are very abusive towards. Sometimes, they reason that their wife/girlfriend/fiancĂ© isn’t as educated as them, so “it makes sense”! No, it doesn’t make sense to abuse someone under any circumstances. Your education, your goals, your accomplishments—none of these make you a better person than someone else; your practices do.

    The irony of this whole concept of “honor” in much of the Pashtun society is that our men may respect OTHER women, non-related women, but not their own. And by “respect,” they often mean … well, not yelling in front of them, not cursing in front of them, etc. I’ll write on this whole honor issue another time, but for now, know that you’re a coward if you mistreat your own wife/daughter/sister/mother/another female family member while respecting other women! Why not start with your own? Why not make sure your own family members are healthy emotionally, mentally, not distressed, happy with how you treat them and view them? A lot of the Pashtun men I know online are apparently “intellectuals” (big joke, I swear), but the way they are with their wives/girlfriends is a whole different story. (I have evidence; no need to share with the public.)  So, girls, don’t let that apparent “intelligence” fool you! I repeat: just because he’s intelligent does not guarantee that he’ll treat you the way you want to be treated. Abuse is a mentality. It can’t be eradicated easily.
  • It's NOT your fault.
    Abusers tend to make their victims feel like everything that's wrong in this world is their (the victim's) fault. That they're being abused because they deserve it. That they're stupid. That they need to be disciplined or controlled because they're unable to discipline and control themselves. But know that it's NOT your fault. You've done nothing wrong. And even if you have, he's supposed to be your partner who helps you out and who supports you, not abuses you. Who manages and disciplines and controls HIM when he does something wrong? Or is it that he never does anything wrong? A lot of them do tend to think nothing they do can ever be wrong, that they can never make a mistake. In fact, though, that's a sign of their own weakness. Only weak people will fool themslevs into thinking they're too perfect to ever do something wrong. Strong people admit that they make mistakes; they know when they need help and aren't afraid to challenge themselves.
  • Don’t let him get away with it even once.
    Know this, ladies: If you let him get away with hurting you once, he’ll think he can get away with it every time. And it’ll reach a point when he’ll make sure you never get out of it. He’ll hurt you once, and then apologize, and you’ll think all is well. Then when he’s sure he has you back again, he’ll hurt you again—and will again apologize, again you’ll think all’s well when it’s not. And this will go on until you’ve lost yourself completely, your self-esteem, your self-confidence, your self-respect, your dignity.
  • Abuse is NOT natural, not okay, not normal.
    No form of abuse is natural or acceptable. No one should have to suffer in it. Unfortunately, domestic abuse has been naturalized and normalized because our society makes us believe that nothing’s wrong with being abused, so we (women) are programmed to accept our mistreatment as natural. Many female family members of mine tell me that there's nothing wrong with a man beating the hell out of his wife -- because he's doing what's best for the wife; he’s only disciplining her … as though she is too stupid to discipline her own self, to learn for her own self! And somehow, the man doesn’t need to be disciplined, even though he’s the abuser, weakling, the one with the problem (if he’s abusive). Girls are being raised to watch their mothers being abused and suffering those abuses and not doing anything about it; naturally, they'll think nothing's wrong with it, and naturally they'll expect it from their own husbands. And most daughters love their fathers to the point of seeing them as the perfect man, the role model. Too many girls want to marry men who're just like their fathers. There are many reasons for this, but this is beside my point. My point is that when these daughters respect their fathers so much and think so highly of them, then when they see their fathers being abusive, they will obviously think, "Well, my dad did/does it, so it can't be wrong."

    Similarly, boys are being raised to watch their mothers, the women they probably love and respect the most in their lives, so when they watch their mothers living it and accepting it and not doing anything about it, of course they’ll grow to think it’s natural for a man to hurt his own wife. But it is NOT okay. It is NOT normal. It is NOT natural. 
  • Scenario: his reaction to your breaking a glass?
    Most of the things I'm saying here, I got from a Women's Self-Defense course I took in college a couple of years ago. One of the things that has stuck with me ever since is this scenario that our teacher (a male) gave us. It's as follows. Ask yourself how your partner would respond/react if you break a glass. Will he scream at you for being so careless? Will he accuse you of being clumsy and stupid? Or will he first check to make sure you’re not hurt, asking you if you’re okay, and come to your side to help you pick up the pieces of the broken glass? If he’s gonna yell and criticize you and make you feel like you did something horrible, he’s abusing you. If he’s gonna come to your side and tell you that’s all right (because he’d know that it was an accident), he’s a good man, you’re lucky to have him, and he loves and cares about you. That’s the kinda man we all want.    
Coming up: Part III - What to do if you are in a verbally/emotionally abusive relationship/marriage

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